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First seasons under new head coaches often breed uncertainty and a cry for patience from the incoming coaching staff. At Texas Tech, this has been anything but the case. Coming into its 88th season, Texas Tech has hired 16 different head coaches, including Matt Wells.
Of the 15 who have coached the a game for the Red Raiders, 13 of them posted winning records in their first season at the helm. Those 15 coaches combined for a record of 88-60-2 in their first seasons. History isn’t guaranteed to repeat itself, but it does enjoy its little patterns.
Quarterback Alan Bowman takes a leap forward in his second year as the starter, leading the Red Raiders to a 3-0 record heading into Big 12 play. Even with a bye week and the most optimistic outlook, the Red Raiders almost certainly won’t pull off an upset against Oklahoma on Sept. 28.
After facing the Sooners, Tech has four of its next seven games against very beatable opponents. The two hardest games in that stretch come against Iowa State and TCU, both of which are in Lubbock. If the defense can cause more chaos than last season while Bowman grows into the conference’s second-best quarterback, the Red Raiders should walk into Austin at 9-2 or 10-1 if things break unexpectedly.
Even if Tech is streaking hotter than it has since the Mike Leach days, it would take the game of Bowman’s life to topple Texas for a third consecutive time in Austin. If Bowman takes the big leap to elite status, this team could end up at 11-2 — its best record since 2008, Leach’s best season in Lubbock.
If Bowman misses time with injuries, this season could go downhill faster than the topography of Lubbock would allow its residents to comprehend. True freshman Maverick McIvor shows promise, but he needs more seasoning to lead a team.
Dropping the game in Arizona to a Kevin Sumlin-led squad coming off an underachieving 2018 would start Wells’ team off in a rough way. If Tech loses to Oklahoma State, the wheels have come off and Bowman is likely hurt. Losing two games in the month of October likely takes this team out of bowl contention, losing three means a lost season.
Coming into Morgantown, the Mountaineers could catch Tech looking ahead to TCU and give the Red Raiders their fifth loss of the season. In this case, Tech should seek to regain some poise and beat Kansas State because a four- or five-win team is not beating TCU or Texas. A 5-7 record would be the worst a head coach has finished in Year 1 at Tech since Jerry Moore went 1-9-1 in 1981.
Wells and company have the setup to put up a solid 9-4 season in an overall down year for the conference. Slight improvements from the defense and Bowman will make this team dangerous in the top half of the Big 12.
The biggest swings of this season will come from how well the Red Raiders do against Iowa State, Baylor and TCU. If they win all three of these games, a double-digit-win season becomes significantly more likely.
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